Perhaps the most beautiful and prominent blessing upon mankind is that each creation is unique and different. Even the closest Siamese twins end up having distinguishing habits and traits. “Who can say this rich praise, that you alone are you…” (Shakespeare).
Each person is an island and a continent by himself. None, except Mother Nature can dispossess them of their individual strengths. Each individual is an ambassador of their inner and outward persona. Men / women can be alike but never the same. That’s the beauteous handiwork of the Creator.
Our remarkable individuality is not a gamble, but a definite design by Divinity, to ensure that we harmonise the uniqueness into a formidable strength for betterment of the human condition. There is a South African saying, the earth is a beehive; we all enter by the same door but live in different cells. Those who recognise their individuality discover and know how to exploit the strengths and what to do to fill up gaps of inadequacies.
None can walk the gait of another person. There is no freedom from your own individuality. It is impossible to live, act and do, other than your own self’s makeup. The most lasting thing is individuality; copying anyone else or at best complete imitation too, will not give a life beyond your own characteristics. A known adage is: everybody to his or her own calling and none to any other.
Managers have to develop the ability to discern that each member of his own team, is possessed of differing set of qualities, skills, abilities and talent. Those managers who fail to reach this managerial competence fail to develop a cohesive team. Individual excellence, in isolation of the team members, cannot make a winning team. The Pakistan Cricket team of past and now, both are a case in point. Each player performs for himself and not for the team. A manager who can instil a thought, as pristine and pure as, individual performance must forever remain subservient to the team’s objectives is a true leader. Just as losing is always an orphan, so also we witness success is had with many fathers; loss by an individual is a loss for a team and so is success.
As an individual, you are extremely important to your sphere of life, it is up to you, if you feel the power of your uniqueness and give it an impetus through recognition and effort. Many choose not to recognise themselves. They end up living other people’s life. Those managers who wish to crush, and there are numerous of this ilk in every single organisation, the individuality of their teammates is nothing short of a corporate despot. The threat of individual brilliance, prevents many a manager, from not utilising the full potential of a co-worker.
If your own dictates do not match the views of your supervisor, don’t let your thoughts perish in the mire of fear of reprisals, instead listen more attentively to your own self - it may be your hour of calling. Henry van Dyke, expresses this thought quite crisply, “individuality is the salt of common life you many have to live in a crowd, but you don’t have to live like it, nor subsit on its food, you may have your own orchard, you may drink at a hidden spring. Be yourself if you would serve others.”
There is no doubt or challenge to the Churchillian thought that the graveyards are full of the indispensables; however, it remains an undeniable truth, that each of us are almost irreplaceable - there cannot be another you. Once you recognise the eternal truth, the tendency would be to give of yourself wholly to your environment, making certain that you are irreplaceable and will be sorely missed, once departed. Those epitaphs on the obituaries are not blatant lies of exaggerated affections, they are indeed true, when they state, “Irreplaceable loss”. There cannot be another you or me. Subservience to following the herd, is like accepting the doctrines and philosophy of others. Your individuality gets buried therein. A Swami had remarked once, variation is the sign of life. Sameness is the sign of death.
Imitation is the worst and most common foe of individuality. Dressing up like George Clooney or having a hair-do like of Julia Roberts will not make you either of them. Imitation has many limitations; once you recognise this obvious fact, it is likely you would embark on a journey of self- discovery, to know and put to best use, your unique, and unparalleled traits.
Carl Jung, the famous psychoanalyst wrote, the shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no universal recipe for living. Indeed, there is never a requirement to become like other team members; on the contrary, there is dire need to recognise others’ individuality and respect him or her for that; and by the same token do not impose your individuality upon others. Develop your own responses to the chaos around you in the organiaation. It is most common to succumb to a herd response and reaction.
Civilisation is the outcome of each individual’s own contribution. Similarly, a corporate or any business entity is but a reflection of the collective contribution of many individuals. Excellence is the finest form of individuality. Our individually notable quality is not a matter of our own doing or choice. It is a gift of nature. It is but natural for each of us to gravitate, many a times without knowledge to own self, towards our unparalleled talent and skill.
An individual is the power of his own thinking and mental make-up. You are the authority. Only you know how to utilise that blessing. No two sets of finger prints are ever alike. No wonder, that for recognition as different persons, all law enforcement agencies rely heavily on finger prints, because there is no other “you”. Said in 302BC by Democirtus, “One man means as much as a multitude, and a multitude as much as one man.”
Individualism has to be kept in harness, all the time. Left on its own, it can sway completely to extreme norms of behaviour and response. If it gets out of hand, it can perish society - humanity. Adolf Hitler, Mussolini, Genghis Khan, etc are a case in point, from the pages of human history that are spilled with blood, due to individuals’ unbridled power and influence.
Many organisations have suffered and perished too, because of the dominance of a single person. While it is good to recognise individual‘s lone, specific and special strengths, a manager must make certain, that the entity doesn’t yield to the unreasonableness of individuality, so that the team, does not lose sight of its collective strength. Men are born different, with equal rights; men are not equal in any other sense. Each is uniquely different. Learn to be the precedent, there never has been anyone like yourself.
The writer is a senior banker and freelance contributor